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Rogue Valley YMCA to open renovated gymnasium

The smell of fresh paint lingers throughout the Rogue Valley YMCA in Medford. The lighting in the gymnasium is especially bright; its basketball floor is noticeably bouncy.

These are but a few of the improvements to the Y as part of its nearly half-million dollar facility renovation campaign, one that began last fall and will conclude late this spring.

"The centerpiece is the gymnasium," says Brad Russell, CEO of the RVYMCA. "We've got new sound panels, new speakers. The room will become multi-purpose: we've got new (basketball) hoops that are adjustable; we can lower them for kids." When the renovation began, the 60-year-old wood basketball flooring turned out to be sound.

"We had a lot of complaints about dead spots, so we had someone dribble a ball on the entire court to find the spots" says Rich Stanfield, YMCA board chairman. "So we injected this foam into those spots to fix them." Extensive sanding and refinishing followed the foam work.

The grand opening of the gymnasium is set for Tuesday, Jan. 21, at 3:30 p.m.

"What we have now," Stanfield says, "is a court that is clean, straight, and up-to-date." Though the basketball court is the most noticeable piece of the renovation, CEO Russell points to the ceiling.

"The ceiling used to leak a lot," he admits. "So we started the repair there. When we had the bad snowstorm last month, we had no leaks. Zero." The gymnasium renovation was originally a stand-alone project, one that was funded by a $100,000 unsolicited gift from Medford philanthropists Sherm and Wanda Olsrud.

Long-time YMCA supporters, the Olsruds are best known in the Rogue Valley as the owners of Food-4-Less and the Sherm's Thunderbird markets of Medford, Klamath Falls, and Roseburg.

The Olsruds have a long history of generous gift giving to support local youth, including donations to 4-H, FFA, Kids Unlimited, Southern Oregon University, and ACCESS, to name just a few.

"When the Olsruds approached us, we thought, this is an opportunity to do a much larger project, getting to all the backed-up maintenance we've put off doing since the economic downturn in 2008," Russell explains.

As the campaign kicked off, board campaign co-chair Laura Naumes convinced family members at the Naumes Family Foundation to match the gift from the Olsruds. Today, with a total of 55 gifts, the campaign total stands at $390,000 of its $450,000 goal.

"Naumes has a long family history with the Y," she says. "My husband's grandparents were on the original board of directors. I've been a member here for about 30 years." What drew Naumes to volunteer time for this campaign is the potential to help such a broad range of people.

"You see the little kids in day care, you see the teens in the teen center, there's the workout facility, senior programs, it's so tremendous to see that large constituency, there isn't one organization in our area that serves as broad a constituency as we do," Naumes says.

This large renovation can be seen in a larger context.

"We (the YMCA) are an important part of West Medford, it's part of our mission, we can be very important to the renovation of the downtown community," Naumes explains. "We're in a good position to help a company's employees stay healthy, and for businesses coming into our area, we can help them with corporate memberships." The entire entrance to the YMCA has been remodeled, the aquatic center has been repainted and its pumps improved. Locker room and shower overhauls are the final pieces of the renovation.

At least, maybe.

"The $450,000 goal will take us through our 'A list' of projects," says Naumes. "But we also have a 'B list' and 'C list,' so we'll keep the campaign going if we can." Perhaps the brightest spot in this huge project is improved lighting.

"We had the Energy Trust of Oregon do this audit for us," says Russell. "By putting in more energy-efficient lighting—and making the rooms brighter—we'll be saving $400 per month permanently on our electric bills in the gymnasium alone. We'll save another $400 per month in the aquatic center."

Daniel Newberry is a freelance writer living in the Applegate Valley. Email him at dnewberry@jeffnet.org

From left, Jackie Ludwig, child care staff member, watches children Logan K., Gracie D., Kamila H., Baylee T., Levi H., and Aiden C. as Director of Fun Gary Taylor, center, and Head Referee Mac Archambault help shoot hoops in the gymnasium at the Rogue Valley Family YMCA Tuesday in Medford. Mail Tribune / Julia Moore - Julia Moore